It was 2008. My husband Jeff and I had been married for a little over a year. We were serving with Friend Ships, an international disaster relief ministry based out of Lake Charles, Louisiana. When I say this nonprofit is faith-based, I don’t mean it in the typical way. It’s more than a definition identifying it as a religious organization.
It is undergirded in prayer and dependence on God, and that results in the ministry taking some chances that might look crazy risky to the onlooker. But isn’t that what faith looks like? Read Hebrews Chapter 11, what’s become known to many as the “hall of faith.” In these biblical examples, people did some crazy things. That’s what obedience looks like.
Jeff produced and cohosted the ministry's radio program. It was created to encourage the body of Christ by providing a platform for individuals and ministry leaders to tell of their faith journeys and God’s faithfulness along the way.
Focus on survivors of sex industry
One week, he decided to focus on women who had been involved in the commercial sex industry. The whole idea made me uneasy.
He set out to interview with Crissy, who had performed in pornographic films, and another who had been a “prostitute” or an "escort" for many years. Her name is Annie Lobert, and she was a forerunner in rescuing women off the streets of Las Vegas.
As he conducted research leading up to the interviews, he shared with excitement what was happening in the lives of Annie and Crissy. I became increasingly more agitated by the conversation.
Honestly, I was jealous. I couldn’t understand why he was so excited about these two women when he had me – a truly godly woman.
I’ve never been the kind of person who does a very good job of hiding what I’m thinking. It is written on my face even if I don’t voice it – which I usually do.
So, Jeff suggested, “Anne, do me a favor. Go to Annie’s Myspace (remember, this was 2008), and read her story. Reluctantly, I did. And not because I wanted to. Only because I was trying to submit to my husband – after all, I was a godly woman, remember!
Eyes opened, heart changed
As I began to read her story, tears were suddenly streaming down my face. And, in a way, I felt violated. It felt like someone had read my own teen diary and copied my thoughts onto the page I was reading.
How could I possibly have so much in common with a prostitute?
And God did what He does. He humbled me at the core of my being. I suddenly realized that I, Anne, was Annie. If my circumstances had shifted just a bit, I could have easily traveled the same path.
As a teen, I too had felt unloved. I too was rebellious. I too looked for love in all the wrong places.
I am that woman! The realization hit me like a ton of bricks! And it changed me forever!
Soon after, we traveled to Las Vegas. We worshiped alongside Annie during a Christmas eve service, followed by an impromptu, late night meeting at Denny's. We had the privilege of sharing a meal with Annie and a table full of precious women, sex trafficking survivors, some rescued and others still enslaved.
I watched as Annie loved. And I knew I wanted to love like that.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
See Annie's story here.